In the Court of Appeals decision on July 11, 2016, in Santo v. Santo, the court increased a Judge’s ability to determine what legal custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest and even if the parties lack the capacity to communicate or cooperate well, a court can still order joint legal custody and are legally authorized to use tie-breaker provisions in custody awards. What the court ultimately concluded by this decision is that there is more than one factor set forth in Taylor v. Taylor and Sanders v. Montgomery County that serves as a prerequisite to a custody award. However, at the conclusion of a merit hearing a judge should articulate the factors he or she considered when determining the ordered custody arrangement and set forth the facts that support their conclusion. Especially in those cases where a court considers awarding joint legal custody to parents who cannot communicate effectively. In such cases, a court must articulate well the justification for awarding joint custody.
Since the late 1980s the following have been the factors the Court considers when determining what custody arrangement is in a child’s best interest: